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Hello out there world.
I am an illustrator and a print maker. When I started doing what I do for "work" almost a decade ago, I was an arbitrary purist. At some point I had created a web of negative connotations around printing apparel––I liked the idea of knowing how to do it, but didn't feel like it was a meaningful contribution to my body of work, no pun intended.
Times have changed. I have had various conceptual shifts in the last decade, but in terms of my daily grind, printing shirts might be the most notable tangible change. Thanks in no small part to being lucky enough to share a shop–his shop–with my good friend Brady Chambers of Mixed Species (a killer West Coast poster & shirt co.) who shifted the way that I think about art on wearable canvases. I remember a specific conversation about printing tees & the nature of pop art as though it were only yesterday–queue birds chirping, thoughtful low-angle sunshine and perhaps some dust particles floating in the friscalating dusk.
I was giving a typical jibberjabber about wanting to create an artistic lifestyle from only originals, short run art prints and occasional graphic-novel style weird books, while Brady patiently listened–probably slamming ink on tees while I talked. His reply was as a kindly old man with a hand-hewn pipe to an energetic yout' out to see the world. Brady loves shirts, almost everything about shirts, and his explanation as to why he loves shirts was multifaceted, but 2 things stuck out to me.
One, that perhaps shirts are the penultimate realization of the 20th century pop culture movement (see A. Warhol). Apparel that includes both technical knowledge and conceptual intent might just be a great way to disperse one's art to the masses. Somewhere in there was some excitement about the temporal nature of art objects that degrade through use and therefore have a lifespan. I think where the art world might get hung up on shirt printing these days is its truly prolific status at the moment, and the inevitable flooding of the scene with thoughtless Amazon robot drivel. It seems there are direct-to-print machines somewhere in a bunker under the desert combining words from Google searches and slamming them in sanserif fonts onto tees, then auto generating clip art drawings of narwhals & sloths from popular search engine queries and applying them with subpar printing techniques to cheap blanks. I digress.
Two, I forget what the second mesmerizing point was at the moment, but you can rest assured that when I remember I will write a blog post about it.
I think we can all agree that the take away here is: screen printed shirts are the penultimate version of 20th century pop art and we should all cover our torsos in badass drawings hand slammed onto Made in USA tees. Wait, what's that, Corvidopolis only uses Made in USA blanks, and we (I) only hand print my tees with the sweat of my proverbial and literal brow? Well, then these limited tees won't only look great on you, they will make everyone around you see you for your true self–a mother licking art scholar.
Next blog -- mushrooms, and why I love them!